Saturday, December 30, 2006

A brief word on Saddam Hussein's execution ...

Not cool.

In the last few days much has been written about Saddam's trial and his impending execution by Iraqi forces. News agencies today report that he was hanged shortly after sunrise this morning. However, amidst all this discussion has been the notable absence of any real criticism of the process by which he has been brought to justice.

My concern here is that his trial - the public spectacle that it was - fell well short of internationally accepted standards for cases involving crimes against humanity. To their credit, some European governments and international human rights agencies have raised similar concerns. This is not to say that I am in any way an apologist for Saddam, or the brutality that he and his henchmen unleashed on the Iraqi and Kurdish people over successive generations. Rather, my concerns are for a country which purports to be attempting to lay a democratic foundation for itself. With all that is at stake in Iraq with the constant threat of insurgents (Bathists or otherwise), Iraqi leaders were far too hasty to dispose of Saddam so quickly. By most accounts he was only released to Iraqi forces less than 48 hours before he was executed.

I suspect that in death Saddam will be revered as a martyr, and consequently, it will make it more difficult for Iraq to move toward a peaceful self governance.
His execution earlier today seems a shame to me, as life long imprisonment and his standing trial for atrocities committed against Kurds (a trial which can still go forward because the official Complaint names a number of Co-defendants, though as a practical matter he was the principal target) would have been a great boon to Iraq's emerging democracy. Instead, I think Iraqis have done themselves a disservice and further damaged what is already a fragile state by eroding the rule of law and a basic tenet which undergirds all democracies however nascent, namely, the preservation of human life.

Finally, a brief grammatical note that has raised my ire in recent days in discussing and reading about this topic. Pictures are "hung" people are "hanged." If this rule is unknown to you, kindly commit it to memory and save yourself some embarrassment.


  • I too was troubled with the way things proceeded in the last two days.

    While many people are heralding this as a swift action of justice, I'm afraid the controversial nature of his execution might only make him a bigger martyr.

    It is interesting to note that Britain, the US's biggest ally in Iraq, had very reserved comments on the execution itself.

    By Blogger Erwin, At December 30, 2006 5:51 PM  

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